Can Art Save the World? How “Old” and “New” Europe Performed Cultural Diplomacy Events with Russia at the Time of War in Ukraine 2014-2015

    • Cover Conference Prague
    • Presentation speakers
      • Beata Ociepka, University of Wrocław, Poland


    The question if art can save the world comes from the public debate on the Polish Year in Russia, planned for 2015 but cancelled by Poland’s government after the pro-Russian separatists downed the Malaysian plane in Smolensk in July 2014. Polish decision was an exception. At the same time Austria celebrated its Season of Culture in Russia, Germany launched the year of Language and Literature in Russia in April 2014 and the British had also their Year of Culture in Russia in 2014. Years and seasons of culture are organized to enhance the perceptions of the organizing countries and to build a platform for exchange and understanding between the participating nations. However, because of the war in Eastern Ukraine the EU countries were faced with a controversy, reflected in their internal debates, stemming from continuing the bilateral celebrations at the time of war and when at the same moment they agreed for sanctions against Russia. The objective of this proposal is to analyze cultural diplomacy of the “old” and the “new” members of the EU (the use of this notorious taxonomy signalizes the consequences of the 2004 enlargement) and to discuss the differences in the approaches of the selected countries. Cultural diplomacy is seen as a subnetwork of public diplomacy, framed both by foreign and cultural policy. The presentation, while focusing on the structures (nodes of cultural diplomacy network), goes back to neo-institutional approaches and to foreign policy analysis. The author asks the question which role was ascribed to the artists and cultural industry in the debates about the events. The answer to the latter comes from the analysis of government documents and reports, debates in parliaments, but also from the content analysis of media outlets, covering the events.